By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
Gratitude filled the air last Sunday, May 30, as St Joseph’s Cathedral Parish, Ekwulobia, Aguata LGA, Anambra State, the groups and parishioners of the parish, took their turns and appreciated the former administrator of the Cathedral, Very Rev Fr Ignatius Onwuatuegwu and four other priests that worked with him on the occasion of a sendoff organized for the five priests.
St Joseph’s Cathedral Parish, in an address signed by the Cathedral Administrator, Very Rev Fr Alphonsus Ezeoke; the 1st Vice Chairman, Parish Pastoral Council, Sir Oliver Ezeike and the Secretary, Parish Pastoral Council, Comr. Izuu Ogwata, commended the former administrator, Very Rev Fr Onwuatuegwu; the vicars, Rev Fr Innocent Okeke and Rev Fr Calistus Benedict Nworgu; and the priests in-residence, Rev Fr Barr Anthony Ezeoke and Rev Fr Godwin Okoye, for what the parish described as notable legacy which they left behind.
According to the address, Fr Onwuatuegwu and the other priests he worked with left behind a legacy of spiritual thoughtfulness that was rooted in Catholic faith, vision, good works, hard work, love and collaborative spirit.
‘Fr Onwuatuegwu, you have the decorum of a polished gentleman who would work very hard even under pressure, and yet achieves an excellent result. Your leadership stems from the love of God and that of the parishioners. The joyful welcome which you extended to all manifested the living presence of Christ in our midst. We thank you for your faith and courage to speak the truth,’ the address read.
Fides gathered that Very Rev Fr Ignatius Onwuatuegwu served as the parish priest, St Joseph’s Pro-Cathedral, Ekwulobia, and later the Cathedral Administrator, from October 2013-October 2020.
He demolished the old and pitiable St Joseph’s Church building on March 4, 2014, and in 2019, completed the building of a cathedral church for the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia.
Earlier, when he led in the concelebrated Holy Mass that preceded the send off ceremony at St Joseph’s Cathedral, Ekwulobia, Rev Onwuategwu, said he was delighted over the mammoth number of the congregation that filled the cathedral church, describing them as the people of God who were ready to work for God and the Church.
Fr Onwuatuegwu, offered the Holy Mass which fell on the 2021 Biafra Remembrance Day for the repose of the souls of the fallen heroes of the defunct Republic of Biafra and for God’s protection on all the people of the South East of Nigeria. He prayed God to protect the people of the South East against the onslaught of the Nigerian Army and other security operatives.
Very Rev Fr Onwuatuegwu, who is currently a lecturer at Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka and a priest in- residence at St Patrick’s Parish, Mbaukwu, thanked God for the gift of the current administrator, of St Joseph’s Cathedral, Ekwulobia, Very Rev Fr Alphonsus Ezeoke, describing him as a special gift to the Church of Old Awka Diocese and the current Ekwulobia Diocese.
He prayed God to endow Fr Ezeoke with the grace that would enable him to continue to work by the unction of the Holy Spirit for the growth of the Church and humanity. This was even as he urged the parishioners to continue to support the priests.
In his homily of the Mass which was also to mark the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, the parish priest of St Maria Goretti Parish, Umuona, Rev Fr Barr Anthony Ezeoke, described the Most Holy Trinity as a great mystery which was beyond human comprehension.
Rev Fr Ezeoke, who based his reflections on the readings of the Trinity Sunday, noted that God was a true God who loved his people and had destined all to be co-heirs of the heavenly kingdom.
According to him, every faithful who was baptised in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, which is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, was a trinitarian who had the spirit of God in him.
Recalling that the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu had on May 30, 1967, declared the defunct Republic of Biafra, Rev Fr Ezeoke, described the Biafran Day as a day set as aside to remember a nation that promoted excellence and ingenuity.
He regretted the loss of many innocent Igbos who were massacred during the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War and the humiliation which the Igbos suffered. The priest, prayed the Most Holy Trinity to protect and defend the Igbos, and through the intercession of Holy Mother Mary, restore the spirit of resilience which the Igbos were known for.
In his remarks, the Administrator, St Joseph’s Cathedral, Ekwulobia, Very Rev Fr Alphonsus Ezeoke, said the cathedral parish was very delighted over the good works which his predecessor and the priests he worked with did in the parish and in Ekwulobia Town.
Presentation of thank you gifts to the five priests by the parish, various groups and families of the Cathedral Parish, as well as dance performances, were highlights of the event which had Bro Emma Enwere, KSM, as the chairman of occasion.